September 20, 2021

Wimbledon: Djokovic wins 20th Grand Slam and matches Federer and Nadal

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He had a date with history. Novak Djokovic had not hidden it: arriving in London two weeks ago, his goal was to triumph again on the grass of Wimbledon and join the two other titans, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, in the annals of tennis. ‘That’s what I’m here for. That’s why I play, ‘he recalled after his semi-final won against Denis Shapovalov.

Mission accomplished for the Serbian, Sunday July 11. Opposed to Matteo Berrettini in the final, the world number one won in four sets (6-7 [4], 6-4, 6-4, 6-3). Here he is with a record of six victories at Wimbledon, and therefore now 20 Grand Slam victories. Like Federer and Nadal. Monstrous.

Novice Berrettini shoved the boss

If he is not the darling of the Wimbledon public, which prefers Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic is a regular here. Before Sunday, he had six finals here, for five wins and one loss. A London liability – and global – much more substantial than that of his opponent of the day.

Matteo Berrettini, 25, has arrived like a comet in the circuit. After a shy pro debut in 2015, the colossus (1.96 m and 96 kilos) clicked two years ago. He has since settled into the top 10 and achieved his main achievement in mid-June, with a victory in the Queen’s tournament. An impressive progression, of course, but incomparable with the gigantic career of the ‘Djoker’, nine years his senior.

The first Italian finalist at Wimbledon, Matteo Berrettini suffered an ignition delay which raised fears of a one-sided match. Novak Djokovic took the upper hand and got two set points at 5-3. But the machine seized up and failed to conclude, as the world’s ninth player set the sights. The neophyte with mammoth forehands took the opportunity to pick up the score and win the first round in the tie break, in 1 h 12 of play. As in the quarterfinals of Roland Garros, Berrettini took a set at ‘Nole’.

Ruthless djokovic

With the support of the public – who will undoubtedly be less a fan of Italy on Sunday night, for the Euro-2021 final between England and Squadra Azzura – and the winning of the first round, Matteo Berrettini had the wind in the stern. Only here, Novak Djokovic is among the toughest opponents when he is back to the wall. The defending champion recovered, raised his voice, led 5-1 to secure the second set 6-4.

The rest of this final unfolded inexorably. Without being sensational, Djokovic has kept a level a notch above that of Berrettini, author of too many unforced errors. The third set fell into its own hands 6-4.

The ruthless Serbian annihilated every attempt by the Italian to resurface and pocketed the fourth and final set 6-3. He then collapsed on the court before tasting a blade of grass, as he has become accustomed to.

2021, the perfect year?

Novak Djokovic thus equals his rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal with a 20iscrowned Grand Slam, 13 years after winning the Australian Open for the first time. The Serbian’s business card is crazy: nine titles in Melbourne (record), two at Roland Garros, three at the US Open (two short of the record held by Federer, Jimmy Connors and Pete Sampras) and therefore six at Wimbledon (two units off Federer’s record).

20 wins in 30 Grand Slam finals, at least two wins in each tournament, and a positive record in his direct confrontations with Federer (27 wins, 23 losses) and Nadal (30 wins, 28 losses): with such references, Djokovic asserts itself more and more in the famous debate around the best player in the history of tennis.

The ‘Djoker’ is having a breathtaking year 2021. After the Australian Open won against Daniil Medvedev and after the Roland-Garros tournament won against Stefanos Tsitsipas (and with a monumental semi-final against Rafael Nadal), he offers himself Wimbledon and can now dream of a season perfect. Novak Djokovic could become the first man to conquer all four Grand Slam tournaments in a single year. The ogre is already looking towards the US Open (August 30 to September 12). Without forgetting the prospect of going for Olympic gold in Tokyo (from July 24 to 30), he who had only taken bronze in Beijing in 2008. In the history of tennis, only the German Steffi Graf has achieved such a feat. ‘Nole’ follows the same route.